Is the Future of Public Transit a Giant Straddling Bus?

China seems to be kicking everyone’s ass these days.  On the same day it’s being reported that the People’s Republic has taken over Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, a Chinese company has revealed a vehicle that promises to revolutionize public transit: a giant bus that straddles traffic!  Called a “three-dimensional fast bus”, the outlandish vehicle is being described as a “mobile tunnel.”  According to UTNE:

Commuters board from a station one story above the ground, and when the straddling bus parks to pick up riders—as many as 1200 per vehicle—it doesn’t disrupt the flow of traffic. …

The innovating company, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment, claims that building the infrastructure for straddling buses is three times faster and much cheaper than a comparable distance of new subways. The wheel-rail-hybrid buses are powered by municipal electricity and solar energy, thus reducing the cost of their operation as well as fuel consumption. They will purportedly reduce traffic jams by 25 percent. There’s even motion-sensing alarm system built into the bus to prevent oversize vehicles from passing through the bus and to warn cars if they swerve too close to the bus’ wheels.

And this ain’t no pipe dream/TED talk fantasy: construction on a 115-mile long line in Beijing’s Mentougou District is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.

Assuming the company’s impressive claims are true, consider me a fan.  Innovations that use existing infrastructure (i.e. roads) seem to have the best shot at succeeding, and of course any new technology that reduces traffic and fuel consumption is cool beans.  Hopefully they’ll introduce this on the West Coast before long (this would be perfect for the 99 B-Line).

via Andrew Sullivan

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